New York Times Runs Geddy’s Picture in Rand Paul Profile
In what some might see as an unfortunate editorial decision by the editors of the New York Times, a picture of Geddy circa 1976 was included in a profile that came out earlier this week of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a potential serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. The Times piece also quotes a school friend talking about Paul’s interest in Rush’s music in the 1970s and 1980s because of the libertarian themes Neil wrote about during that period. Of particular interest to Paul was “The Trees,” which contains lyrics that both libertarians and its critics have pointed to as having a libertarian theme. Neil has talked many times about the lyrics and says he dashed them off after watching a cartoon, probably a Dr. Seuss cartoon, and that they weren’t intended to be overtly political.
Paul’s interest in Rush is well known, which is certainly why the Times ran Geddy’s picture. Paul has quoted Rush lyrics, including from “The Trees,” on the campaign trail, causing Anthem, Rush’s management company, to release a letter asking him to stop.
When Paul spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention in which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Rommney was nominated for president, Paul came out to the stage to “Tom Sawyer,” (as did the Senate Ranking Minority Member, fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell).
Neil has said he was indeed interested in libertarianism as a young man but his views have evolved to be a hybrid of social liberalism and economic libertarianism, what used to be called classical liberalism. It’s a form of libertarianism in which the government is expected to stay out of people’s private lives but, as envisioned even by free-market icon Adam Smith, the government maintains a critical role in easing the dislocations and extreme impacts of market-based economics.
Classical liberalism has the virtue of being compatible with both liberalism and libertarianism. Indeed, probably the only political strain it doesn’t have common cause with is the type of social conservatism that tries to get conservative social values institutionalized in government. So while a classical liberal can make common cause with libertarians on the economy and liberals on the need for a social safety net, it has nothing to say to religious fundamentalism that seeks to institutionalize right-to-life, defense of traditional marriage, and other aspects of the conservative social agenda. That’s because classical liberals don’t see a role in government for getting involved in people’s private lives in any capacity. It’s all about economics.
In the Times piece, Paul is described as being brought up in father Ron Paul’s libertarian ideology:
“He received a set of Ayn Rand novels for his 17th birthday. And he followed the rock band Rush, some of whose lyrics had libertarian themes. Gary L. Gardner Jr., a high school friend, said: ‘I remember even back then being on a swim team bus and a Rush song comes on. I think it was the song ‘Trees’—and he said, “Man, listen to the words of this, you know those guys have got to be conservative.”‘“’The Trees’ tells the story of maples, overshadowed by tall oaks, that form a union to bring equality to the woods ‘by hatchet, ax and saw.’”
What’s clear from the Times piece is that Paul is trying to move away from some of the more extremist views of conservatives and libertarians, and while he denounces what he calls the “mushy middle,” he clearly is taking a more socially open position than many conservatives. In other words, he looks like he’s trying to inch his way toward something closer to classical liberalism. That would not necessarily be a bad thing from the point of view of people who don’t like extremism of any stripe.
Read the full story, called “Rand paul’s Mixed Inheritance.”
Credit to RushIsABand for the head’s up.
Here’s a fun piece of satire on how Rush and other Canadians unleashed Ayn Rand on the United States in an effort to destabilize the country.